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British Virgin Islands Constitution

PART IV

The Legislature

Composition

25. There shall be a Legislature of the Virgin Islands which shall consist of Her Majesty and a Legislative Council.There shall be a Legislature of the Virgin Islands which shall consist of Her Majesty and a Legislative Council.

26. The Legislative Council shall consist of a Speaker elected as provided in section 32 of this Order, one ex officio member, namely the Attorney General, and thirteen elected members. The Legislative Council shall consist of a Speaker elected as provided in section 32 of this Order, one ex officio member, namely the Attorney General, and thirteen elected members.

27. (1) The elected members of the Legislative Council shall be persons qualified for election in accordance with the provisions of this Order and, subject to the provisions of this Order, shall be elected in the manner provided by or under any law for the time being in force in the Virgin Islands.

(2) For the purposes of elections the Virgin Islands shall be a single electoral district and shall return four members to the Council and shall also be divided into nine electoral districts in such manner as may be provided by or under any such law and each such district shall return one member to the Council.

28. Subject to the next following section, a person shall be qualified to be elected as a member of the Legislative Council, if, and shall not be qualified to be so elected unless, he-

(a) is a British subject of the age of twenty-one years or upwards, and

(b) is deemed to belong to the Virgin Islands, and

(c) is otherwise qualified as a voter under section 31 of this Order

29. (1) No person shall be qualified to be elected as a member of the Legislative Council who -

(a) is, by virtue of his own act, under any acknowledgement of allegiance, obedience or adherence to a foreign power or state; or

(b) holds, or is acting in, any public office; or

(c) is a minister of religion; or

(d) has been adjudged or otherwise declared bankrupt under any law in force in any part of the Commonwealth and has not been discharged; or

(e) is a person certified to be insane or otherwise adjudged to be of unsound mind under any law in force in the Virgin Islands; or

(f) is under sentence of death imposed on him by a court, or is serving a sentence of imprisonment (by whatever name called) for a term exceeding twelve months imposed on him by a court or substituted by competent authority for some other sentence imposed on him by a court, or is under such a sentence of imprisonment the execution of which has been suspended; or

(g) is disqualified for membership of the Council by or under any law in force in the Virgin Islands by reason of his having been convicted or reported guilty of any offence relating to elections; or

(h) is a party to, or a partner in a firm or a director or manager of a company which is a party to, any contract with the Government of the Virgin Islands for or on account of the public service, and has not, within fourteen days before his nomination as a candidate for election, published in the Gazette or in a newspaper circulating in the Virgin Islands a notice setting out the nature of such contract and his interest, or the interest of such firm or company, therein.

(2) For the purposes of paragraph (f) of the foregoing subsection –

(a) two or more sentences of imprisonment that are required to be served consecutively shall be regarded as separate sentences if none of those sentences exceeds twelve months, but if any one of such sentences exceeds that term they shall be regarded as one sentence; and

(b) no account shall be taken of a sentence of imprisonment imposed as an alternative to or in default of the payment of a fine.

30. (1) Every elected member of the Legislative Council shall vacate his seat therein at the next dissolution of the Council after his election.

(2) An elected member of the Legislative Council shall also vacate his seat therein-

(a) if he resigns it by writing under his hand addressed to the Speaker; or

(b) if he is absent from the sittings of the Council for such period and in such circumstances as may be prescribed in the Standing Orders of the Council; or

(c) if he ceases to be qualified for election; or

(d) subject to the next following subsection, if any circumstances arise that, if he were not a member of the Council, would cause him to be disqualified for election as such by virtue of any provision of subsection (1) of the last foregoing section other than paragraph (h); or

(e) if he becomes a party to any contract with the Government of the Virgin Islands for or on account of the public service or if any firm in which he is a partner, or any company of which he is a director or manager, becomes a party to any such contract, or if he becomes a partner in a firm, or a director or manager of a company which is a party to any such contract:

Provided that, if in the circumstances it shall appear just to the Council so to do, the Council may exempt any elected member from vacating his seat under the provisions of this paragraph if such member shall, before becoming a party to such contract as aforesaid, or before, or as soon as practicable after, becoming otherwise interested in such contract (whether as a partner in a firm or director or manager of a company), disclose to the Council the nature of such contract and his interest or the interest of any such firm or company therein.

(3) (a) If circumstances such as are referred to in paragraph (d) of the last foregoing subsection arise because a member is declared bankrupt, adjudged to be of unsound mind, under sentence of death or imprisonment or convicted or reported guilty of an offence relating to elections and if it is open to the member to appeal against the decision (either with the leave of a court or other authority or without such leave) he shall forthwith cease to perform his functions as a member but, subject to the next following paragraph, he shall not vacate his seat in the Council until the expiration of a period of thirty days thereafter:

Provided that the Speaker may, at the request of the member, from time to time extend that period for further periods of thirty days to enable the member to pursue an appeal against the decision, so, however, that extensions of time exceeding in the aggregate one hundred and fifty days shall not be given without the approval, signified by resolution, of the Legislative Council.

(b) If, on the determination of any appeal, such circumstances continue to exist and no further appeal is open to the member or if, by reason of the expiration of any period for entering an appeal or notice thereof or the refusal of leave to appeal or for any other reason, it ceases to be open to the member to appeal, he shall forthwith vacate his seat.

(c) If at any time before the member vacates his seat such circumstances aforesaid cease to exist, his seat shall not become vacant on the expiration of the period referred to in paragraph (a) of this subsection and he may resume the performance of his functions as a member.

(4) In any case in which the Council, under paragraph (e) of subsection (2) of this section, decides not to exempt an elected member from vacating his seat, the member may appeal to the High Court against the decision, and subsection (3) of this section shall apply in the same manner as it does in the circumstances therein specified.

31. (1) Subject to the provisions of subsection (2) of this section, a person shall be qualified to be registered as a voter for the purposes of elections if, and shall not be so qualified unless, he is a British subject and is deemed to belong to the Virgin Islands and on the qualifying date has attained the age of eighteen years and he either-

(a) is domiciled and resident in the Virgin Islands on the qualifying date; or

(b) on that date is domiciled in the Virgin Islands and resident in the United States Virgin Islands:

Provided that any person who is registered as a voter on the date on which this Order comes into operation and is a British subject and on the qualifying date is domiciled and resident in the Virgin Islands or on that date is domiciled in the Virgin Islands and resident in the United States Virgin Islands may be registered as a voter notwithstanding that he is not deemed to belong to the Virgin Islands.

(2) No person shall be qualified to be registered as a voter under this section who on the qualifying date-

(a) is a person certified to be insane or otherwise adjudged to be of unsound mind under any law in force in the Virgin Islands; or

(b) is disqualified by or under any such law from being registered as a voter for the purposes of elections by reason of his having been convicted of an offence relating to elections; or

(c) is under sentence of death imposed on him by a court or is serving a sentence of imprisonment (by whatever name called) for a term exceeding twelve months imposed on him by a court or substituted by competent authority for some other sentence imposed on him by a court.

(3) In this section "the qualifying date" means such date as may be appointed by or under any law in force in the Virgin Islands as the date with reference to which the qualifications of any person for registration are to be ascertained.

(4) For the purpose of subsection (2) (c) of this section-

(a) two or more sentences of imprisonment that are required to be served consecutively shall be regarded as separate sentences if none of those sentences exceeds twelve months, but if any one of those sentences exceeds that term they shall be regarded as one sentence; and

(b) no account shall be taken of a sentence of imprisonment imposed as an alternative to or in default of the payment of a fine.

32. (1) When the Legislative Council first meets after any general election and before it proceeds to the despatch of any other business it shall elect a person to be the Speaker of the Council, and, if the office of Speaker falls vacant for any reason other than a dissolution of the Council, the Council shall, as soon as practicable elect another person to that office.

(2) The Speaker shall be elected from among persons who are not members of the Executive Council or the Legislative Council, and no person shall be elected as Speaker if-

(a) he is not a person qualified for election as a member of the Legislative Council; or

(b) he is a person disqualified for election as a member of that Council by virtue of any provisions of section 29 (1) of this Order other than paragraph (h).

(3) When the Legislative Council first meets after any general election and before it proceeds to the despatch of any other business except the election of the Speaker, it shall elect a member of the Legislative Council who is not a member of the Executive Council to be Deputy Speaker of the Legislative Council; and if the office of Deputy Speaker falls vacant for any reason other than a dissolution of the Council, the Council shall, as soon as convenient, elect another such member to that office.

(4) A person shall vacate the office of Speaker or Deputy Speaker-

(a) on dissolution of the Legislative Council; or

(b) if he announces the resignation of his office to the Legislative Council or if by writing under his hand addressed to the Council and received by the Clerk of the Council he resigns that office; or

(c) if a motion for his removal from office is carried by the votes of six or more elected members of the Council;

(d) in the case of the Speaker-

(i) if he ceases to be a person qualified for election as a member of the Legislative Council; or

(ii) if any circumstances arise that would cause him to be disqualified for election as an elected member of that Council by virtue of any provision of section 29 (1) of this Order other than paragraph (h); or

(iii) on the expiration of a period of thirty days from the date of his election if he was at that date a party to, or a partner in a firm or a director or manager of a company which is a party to, any contract with the Government of the Virgin Islands for or on account of the public service and if, before the expiration of that period, he has not disclosed to the Council the nature of such contract and his interest, or the interest of such firm or company, therein and the Council has not exempted him from vacating his office under this sub-paragraph; or

(iv) if any circumstances arise that, if he were an elected member of the. Council, would cause him to vacate his seat under paragraph (e) of section 30 (2) of this Order;

(e) in the case of the Deputy Speaker if he ceases to be a member of the Council for any reason other than a dissolution of the Council or if, by virtue of section 30 (3) of this Order, he is required to cease to perform his functions as a member or if he is appointed to be a member of the Executive Council.

33. (1) Subject to the provisions of this section, the Governor may appoint a Leader of the Opposition.

(2) The Governor shall appoint as the Leader of the Opposition-

(a) a member of the Legislative Council recommended by a majority of the elected members of the Legislative Council who are members of any opposition party whose numerical strength in that Council is greater than that of any other opposition party; or

(b) if there is no such party or if no recommendation is made under paragraph (a) of this subsection, the member of the Legislative Council who in the judgement of the Governor is best able to command the support of the members of the Legislative Council in opposition to the Government.

(3) If at any time between the polling in a general election and the next following dissolution of the Legislative Council the Governor is satisfied that, if the office of the Leader of the Opposition were then vacant, he would appoint thereto a person other than the person then holding that office, the Governor shall revoke the appointment of the Leader of the Opposition

(4) The office of the Leader of the Opposition shall also become vacant-

(a) if for any reason other than a dissolution of the Legislative Council the holder thereof ceases to be a member of that Council; or

(b) if the holder thereof is appointed as the Chief Minister.

(5) In this section, "opposition party" means a group of members of the Legislative Council in opposition to the Government who are prepared to support one of their number as their leader.

(6) In the exercise of his functions under this section the Governor shall act in his discretion.